Thursday, May 10, 2012
When Bob Fultz talks about government getting out of the way of the private sector, he sounds like a classic small-government backer. He’s hoping his campaign catchphrase – the D next to his name is for “different” – will catch on with conservative and moderate voters by June 5, the first open primary for state Assembly.
The newly nonpartisan primary election, approved by California voters in 2010, means the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, will face off in November.
In the three-way contest for Assembly District 29, which includes coastal Monterey County and most of Santa Cruz County, Fultz is running against Santa Cruz County Supervisor and California Coastal Commissioner Mark Stone, widely known for his strong environmental voting record. They’re vying to fill Assemblyman Bill Monning’s seat as Monning campaigns for State Senate.
The candidates discussed issues like the budget, education, marijuana regulation, high-speed rail and fracking at a May 3 forum in the Prunedale Grange. The sole Republican in the race, Tom Walsh, did not attend, and did not respond to requests for comment.
Stone and Fultz have both served on school boards, and one of Stone’s biggest issues is giving local educators the discretion to spend state money how they see fit. “The state does not tend to trust how local school districts deliver education services, and they need to,” he said. “The funding should follow the kids.”
Stone and Fultz shared the Grange stage with the two contenders for adjacent District 30, which includes the Salinas Valley and parts of San Benito and Santa Clara counties: incumbent Luis Alejo and Rob Bernosky, a chief financial officer for a food company from Hollister.
While Alejo, a Democrat, touts his policy work on issues like keeping California manufacturing jobs local and increasing the minimum wage, Bernosky is running on a platform of regulatory rollback. “We need to sunset every rule and regulation that affects employers,” he said at the forum. “In five years, if it was good law, than the Legislature can pass it again. In the meantime, all these burdensome rules and regulations need to go away.”
Bernosky, a Republican, was the only candidate at the forum to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hike plan (to be decided by voters). Fultz is undecided; “If we pass this, does it really solve the problem?” he asks.
This is Bernosky’s second run at the seat he lost to Alejo in 2010, when he pulled 32 percent of the vote – despite a fundraising lag of more than 10 to 1. “That caught the attention of some of the operatives in the state,” Bernosky says.
Those “operatives” include the San Rafael-based California Trailblazer Program, which has so far donated $580 in candidate training to Bernosky’s campaign, and Pete Ricketts, a 2006 U.S. Senate candidate from Nebraska. Ricketts, whose father founded Ameritrade and whose family owns the Chicago Cubs, gave Bernosky $1,000.
As of March 17, Bernosky had raised $10,000, still far behind Alejo’s $55,000, which has come mostly from about a dozen PACs as well as unions, Indian tribes and trade associations.
Political differences aside, Alejo stops to shake Bernosky’s hand as he leaves the Prunedale Grange. “See you on the trail,” Bernosky says brightly, then adds, “I actually do like him.”